Independent (former Republican) Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is considering a third-party presidential run as the Libertarian candidate. Even though he's a conservative, his candidacy might hurt former Vice President Joe Biden more than President Donald Trump, according to a new poll.
A Monmouth University poll showed that in a one-on-one election, Biden is at 50% and Trump is at 41% nationally. When the question is changed to make it a race between Biden, Trump, and Amash, Biden gets 47%, Trump 40%, and Amash 5%. In this poll, Amash takes more voters from the Democrat than the Republican.
Nationally, that doesn't make so much of a difference given Biden's current polling lead. Looking back to 2016, however, gives a picture of just how impactful a third party candidate can be one way or the other.
Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes (0.7%), and Libertarian Gary Johnson earned 146,715 votes (2.4%). Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes (0.3%), with Johnson earning 172,136 votes (3.6%). And, Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes (0.7%) with Johnson earning 106,674 votes (3.6%).
That's 46 electoral votes in three key states that went to Trump due to a combined margin of victory of 77,744 votes — it can matter greatly who the third party candidate siphons votes from.
Trump trailed Hillary Clinton in national polls leading into the 2016 election; and indeed, Clinton won the popular vote by a significant margin. Whether or not Trump can hold states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will go a long way toward determining whether he gets reelected.
The polling indicates that Trump has a tight hold on Republican voters, while some Democrats seem inclined to choose Amash over the presumptive nominee, Biden. From Hot Air:
Four points come out of Biden's support among independents with Amash in the race, which isn't surprising. More surprising is the fact that five points also come out of his support among Democrats. By comparison, Trump loses just a single point among Republicans to the libertarian, a testament to how tight his grip on the party is.
If 2016 is any indication, Amash's support as a hypothetical candidate in early polls will diminish when/if his candidacy becomes real, and as many voters get closer to Election Day and gravitate toward choosing a candidate that can actually win the election.